Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Boys in the Band

[possible spoilers below]

Rather than a coherent whole, The Boys in the Band comes across as two somewhat-related one-act plays. In the first, a bunch of gay men get together for a party and are snotty, fey, and funny. In the second, things get mean as too much alcohol is consumed, until Michael, the lead character, cries, "Why must we [homosexuals] hate ourselves?" But there is no evidence that the men do hate themselves for being gay. Harold hates being ugly; Donald feels scarred by his parents; Hank wishes that Larry would be monogamous; Larry wishes that Hank would accept an open relationship; Emory wishes he could get laid more often; Bernard wishes that the love of his youth loved him. Given a choice, Hank might choose to be straight, but for most of these men being gay is simply not the issue. It's almost as though author Mart Crowley wrote non-self-hating homosexuals despite himself. (I also didn't buy that even copious amounts of alcohol could turn the people in the first act into the people in the second act.) The not-uninteresting Transport Group Theatre Company production takes place in someone's penthouse rather than in a theatre, offering the audience a nice you-are-there sense of being at the party. However, in order to maintain the illusion, the show is presented without intermission, making the disconnect between the first and second acts even more jarring. The cast is uneven; the strongest performances are given by Jonathan Hammond, Christopher Innvar, and Nick Westrate. Director Jack Cummings III has chosen to pace the show slowly, with frequent, long pauses, particularly in the second act. I imagine he wants the effect to be profound, but it is frequently ponderous.

No comments: